AUSTRALIA led the world when it gave women the right to vote and be voted into governments in 1902. But 110 years later the anomaly of under-representation remains entrenched.
In Parramatta and Holroyd the representation could be called fractional, just six women make up the 27 seats on both councils.
And just two women, councillors Julia Finn and Lorraine Wearne, were elected to the Parramatta Council.
Cr Finn said she was always disappointed at the number of women on the council. She believed that the council being a part-time role meant juggling politics with work and family life proved too difficult for most women.
"I've been on the council now for 13 years and there has never been a woman on the council who had young children," she said.
But Cr Finn said others may be turned off politics by the acerbic tone of state and federal politicians seen in the media.
"I think internal party politics is a problem as well," she said. "The Liberal Party has never preselected a woman as No.1 on a ticket for Parramatta — they just don't do it. And the Labor Party doesn't put many up for selection either."
Holroyd Council doubled its female representation at the recent election, from two to four. Crs Pam Colman, Yvette Whitfield, Lisa Lake and Nadima Kafrouni comprise a third of the council.
Newly-elected Cr Lake said having more women on the council could only be good. "I attended meetings all year and I did notice personal politics crept into the debate a lot," she said. "I guess gender issues might be significant in the way debate is progressed. For me the important issues are more significant for women and children — child-care issues and library services for children."
Janette Allen, a board member of the NSW Council for Women's Economic Opportunity, said all organisations could benefit from a gender balance.
"I think women have done very well in a male-dominated structure for a very long time," she said.
"But the organisations that adopt a more gender-balanced approach seem to benefit from a more balanced culture."
That could only happen, Ms Allen said, if workplaces were flexible to the family duties played by many women. "There's a whole culture in workplaces that needs to change to accept a little more balance."